This week I watched two films starring Christian Bale. The two films I watched are of two roles which required much physical transformation from the actor, The Machinist (2004) and The Fighter (2010). Both films were drastically different in style, as well as the characters. One thing the roles had in common was Bale had to lose weight to play the role. Usually known for his impressive physique (like in such films as American Psycho and Christopher Nolan’s Batman films), Bale’s physical transformation for both of these films is extremely impressive.
In The Machinist, Bale played an insomniac machine worker, who gradually loses his grip on reality and sanity. Bale literally starved himself in order to play the sickly thin Trevor. He lost over 60 lbs to play the role. He went down to 120 lbs from 180 lbs. It has been reported that he wanted to go under 100 lbs, but the producers would not let him. I am not sure if Bale’s preparation for this role would be considered dedication or insanity. Either way, it’s impressive. In addition to the challenge of the weight loss, the role required him to play an insomniac who loses his mind. So he was faced with physical, mental, and emotional challenges. Even though he takes these extreme method approaches, I doubt that Bale actually became an insomniac. Not only would that be unhealthy (especially with the weight loss) but he would need the energy for long days on the set.
In The Fighter, Bale played real-life boxing trainer Dicky Eklund. The role required the physical challenge for Bale to (one again) lose weight and play a crack addict. One thing that impressed me about Bale’s portrayal of Dicky is that he perfectly captured the physical mannerisms and personality of the real man. In the end of the film, the real Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund are shown talking. It was uncanny to see how similar Bale’s portrayal was to the actual person. Knowing Bale’s propensity for insane preparation, I would have to think that he spent a lot of time with Dicky, as well as researching the sport and crack addition.
Both of these performances I consider to be great. Both are challenging and the preparation and risk the actor takes are rewarded in the end result. Trevor seems to be the most challenging role on the surface, but you could argue that playing a real-life personality (especially someone with such a distinctive personality) could be more challenging. Even though I loved both performances, Bale in The Fighter is absolutely amazing. He is pure Dicky. He is the character completely. I think that Christian Bale is still probably underrated by a lot of people, mostly due to the fact that he likes to do action films. But I believe him to be an inspiring actor who will take risks that no one else is willing to take. He will give everything that he has to a role. I consider him to be one of the best actor’s of his generation.